How did you first become interested in digital art?
I became interested in digital art in early 2021 when Christie's announced the sale of Beeple's artwork. I contacted the auction house for more details, and this conversation prompted me to seek out a digital art expert who could advise me on building a collection, explain the technical aspects, and connect me with artists. That's how I met Fanny Lakoubay, who has been my art advisor since March 2021 through LAL ART Advisory.
It has often been said that one of the problems with digital art was that it was complicated to sell, that collectors had difficulty imagining themselves with digital works in their homes. Has this been your case for a long time? Do you remember your first digital work?
In 2021, we were still at the very beginning of the NFT domain, which made collecting NFTs difficult without prior understanding of blockchain technology, how to create a wallet, and how to purchase cryptocurrency. Nowadays, there are many services and platforms that facilitate this initial contact.
At my home, I have many digital artworks in mind, but not solely on screens that I find too intrusive in interior design. Many artists create physical artworks alongside their digital ones, such as prints or paintings. The use of projectors or dedicated screens like Infinite Object also allows for different display mediums. There are numerous options, and it is often best to discuss directly with the artists, who always have the best ideas for exhibiting and showcasing their artworks.
For reference, my first digital artwork was a female Cryptopunk that I adore. Later on, I even had a pixel portrait made that resembles me, in reference to the incredible Cryptopunks project, representing my digital identity. My collector's name, "Elsie," is also a pseudonym, which is common in the crypto world. To understand a new artistic movement, it was important for me to adopt its codes, even though everything was new for someone coming from a much more traditional background.
How do you go about acquiring a digital work? Is it also possible to know the number of digital works in your collection?
My collection has a few hundred artworks. In order to showcase the most characteristic artworks of this new crypto art movement, I have also created a permanent collection of 100 artworks that will not be sold and represent the diversity of genres, styles, and origins of crypto artists.
It is important for me to support emerging, female, and non-binary artists rather than buying NFTs from already popular projects. However, my collection also includes "blue chip" NFTs such as Cryptopunks and Moonbirds, established digital artists like Hackatao and Kevin Abosch, as well as contemporary artists such as Frank Stella, Damien Hirst, and Marina Abramovich who are experimenting with technology. My goal is to showcase the diversity of the crypto art movement.
To identify artists, do you spend a lot of time on the web, on blockchain or do you trust the opinions of gallery owners more?
To acquire new artworks, I rely on multiple sources. Firstly, I rely on the advice and connections provided by Fanny Lakoubay, who has been involved in the crypto art scene since 2018 and has developed relationships with numerous artists. She explains the concepts developed by artists she respects, informs me about ongoing exhibitions and sales, and connects me with galleries or artists directly, if necessary.
I have also collected many emerging artists that I discovered through the Vertical Crypto Art residency, which helps new artists experiment with NFTs. As a token of appreciation, I also serve as a mentor within the residency to provide artists with the perspective of a collector.
As a collector, how did you welcome the arrival of NFTs on the art market?
The arrival of NFTs in the art market sparked my interest in contemporary art, which I did not collect before. The possibilities offered by the convergence of technology and art are fascinating to me, and I am convinced that digital art should have a central place in the contemporary art market. Our lives are inherently connected to technology, so our collections should be as well. It will take time, but I am optimistic that the documentation of the artworks I have collected and the ability to filter my permanent collection using traditional notions (style, edition, subject, etc.) will encourage more traditional collectors to venture into digital art.
I am delighted to see that more and more galleries, art fairs, and museums are exhibiting digital artworks. We are on the right track.
Today, when the NFT market seems to be collapsing, are you worried?
Financial markets are subject to fluctuations. They are inherently cyclical. Crypto markets follow the same pattern, so there is nothing surprising about it. However, it can be challenging for digital artists who have started making a living from their art. As for me, it doesn't change anything. I don't focus on the "floor price" of my artworks or the opportunities for selling at any given moment. My collection is built for the long term, with the purpose of documenting the birth of a new artistic movement and supporting the artists I follow. That's also the role of a patron.
Finally, what are you looking for first when acquiring a digital work? Its aesthetic depth, cost, prestige, etc.?
Prestige and market value are definitely not my priorities when considering a new artwork to add to my collection.
First and foremost, I take into account the artist's background and become interested in their profile and the story they want to convey. Then, I examine the concept of the artwork or series and look for an intellectual, visual, or conceptual connection. I only collect artworks that resonate with me and to which I feel connected.
Lastly, I consider the technical aspects: how the artwork is presented, on which platform it was created, and which partners contributed to its production. I want to ensure that I want to associate my collection with these actors. One must be cautious in a new world where there are many new players.
The relationships I have built with the artists I collect are invaluable to me. The opportunity to connect with artists who are innovating around the world is an immeasurable wealth, and I encourage many other collectors to embark on this adventure. It is worth it.